The responsible investment industry is growing fast; it is diversifying; it is becoming more complex and it is doing this at a time when global capital markets themselves are under pressure to change.
While such times are exciting, they can be all absorbing and it can be difficult to find the time and headspace to ensure that, as an industry, we are attracting and developing the skills that we need to enable the industry to grow and thrive sustainably into the future.
To address this issue, Next Generation Drinks and SRI–CONNECT will host 100+ junior and senior SRI and corporate governance professionals at a free industry discussion event in London on the evening of Thursday October 27. (Some places left. Register here via SRI–CONNECT).
The event will not be a jobs fair. It will be a chance for us collectively to tease out ideas and answers about what different roles are being created in different parts of the investment value chain, what skills we need to bring in from other industries and what skills can help people transfer from our industry to others. We’re going to talk about how to get started in the industry, the differences in how SRI is practiced in different parts of the world, what the CIO needs to know about SRI and, of course, remuneration … for ourselves – not for company execs!
(We’ve also posted a number of discussion questions to Responsible Investor’s LinkedIn group for those who want to contribute but can’t join in person)
While we don’t want to predict or prejudge what will come out of these discussions, we do think the following baseline principles hold true:
1. The development of skills in individuals and the capacity of our industry as a whole is important and must not be neglected
2. A sense of what is required will best be developed through open discussion by senior practitioners (who have brought the industry thus far) and the juniors who will be taking it on into the future
3. Financial & investment analysis skills and perspectives are critical if we are to integrate sustainability and corporate governance ideas into ‘mainstream’ investment thinking…
4. … but we should also be proud of skills and perspectives that we already bring … as these enhance capital markets perspectives that have become too narrow in recent years5. Career mobility between different geographies and different parts of the value chain will be an important way of spreading best practice and stimulating new approaches
6. Firms increasingly need to consider business strategy and human resourcing in a holistic way. Quants and fundamental asset managers will develop different SRI strategies and will need different people with different skill sets to execute those; retail-facing managers will need different skills to institutional-facing managers etc.
7. Millennials have very different experiences and expectations of capital markets and their social impacts than preceding generations. If the sustainable investment (and the wider mainstream investment) industry wants to attract this generation as employees and customers, it will need to take these experiences and expectations into account and present careers and products that meet the demands and priorities of this new generation of investors.
8. Wine will probably be needed to support creative thinking and smooth-flowing discussion. In this final respect, we thank Schroders for their sponsorship of this upcoming event, invite SRI practitioners based in London to join us next week and invite others to join the discussion online.
Next Generation Drinks organise informal social events 3 – 4 times a year connecting sustainable finance professionals working to create long-term value benefiting wider society in a low carbon economy. Established as a network for people starting out in the sustainable investment industry, Next Generation Drinks has now grown to over 700 members in various positions of seniority.
SRI–CONNECT is the online global research network for SRI & corporate governance professionals. It has 4,400+ members; it is open to those with current employment in sustainable finance and corporate governance
Mike Tyrrell is the Editor of SRI–CONNECT.